Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Craig Kelly: MP banned from Facebook but appointed to parliament’s social media inquiry

This would appear to be a recognition that what Kelly says is not far out. What he says has strong academic authority. It is just not mainstream. But the mainstream changes so that is no discredit to Kelly. He just keeps a badly needed debate alive

The federal MP Craig Kelly – who has been permanently banned from Facebook and criticised for the online distribution of “seriously misleading” information about Covid-19 vaccines – has been appointed to a parliamentary committee looking into social media and online safety.

The appointment has raised eyebrows among other members of the committee after the former Liberal, turned Palmer United party MP, was banned from Facebook and Instagram in April this year over posts promoting hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin and questioning the effectiveness of masks.

In September, the Therapeutic Goods Administration also issued a statement saying its lawyers had written to Kelly over text messages the party had sent to millions of Australians. The TGA alleged the party had breached copyright and demanded it stop distributing “incomplete extracts” of adverse event reports relating to Covid vaccines which the TGA believed could be “seriously misleading”.

Kelly has since called for the social media companies to be reined in, and argued Facebook’s move was in contempt of parliament and amounted to improper interference.

The then Speaker Tony Smith dismissed that claim, stating there was no evidence that the ban was targeted at Kelly in his capacity as a member of parliament.

Since Kelly joined the United Australia party, YouTube’s parent company Google has also faced pressure to remove the party’s account. Labor’s national secretary, Paul Erickson, wrote to Google in September raising concerns that the UAP was using its platform to undermine confidence in Australia’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, citing videos in which Kelly questioned the safety of Covid vaccines and promoted ivermectin.

The party has spent close to $3m on ads on YouTube since August, far more than any other political party in Australia over the same period.

The parliamentary inquiry was announced by Scott Morrison this week as part of the government’s ongoing focus on large tech companies. The committee will be chaired by the Liberal MP Lucy Wicks, and report back in February, before the next federal election.

The terms of reference for the committee are broad. It will review “the range of online harms that may be faced by Australians on social media and other online platforms, including harmful content or harmful conduct”, what impact algorithms have, identity verification and age verification policies, online safety for children, and data collection.

The committee consists of eight members, with five from the government, and three from the opposition or crossbench.

On Thursday, Kelly along with the Labor MPs Tim Watts and Sharon Claydon were added to the committee in a motion in the House of Representatives by the assistant minister to the deputy prime minister, Kevin Hogan.

The crossbench ultimately decides which of its members are put up on committees, meaning it was not a decision of government members to appoint Kelly to the committee.


Hidden connections of Australia's power elites

Many people, like me, are starting to wake up to the fact that things are not what they seem in Australia. For years now, we have all been fed the line that Australia is a democratic ‘meritocracy’ where those who reach the top, do so as a product of their own gifts, talent, intelligence or hard work – none of which is even remotely true.

Most people operating at the top of Australia’s elite circle of power are part of a far more nepotistic and insidious system altogether – one where hard work and talent matters much less than who are connected to, or even who your father, mother, or sibling was, or who you are married to.

Take Boris Johnson in the UK, whose father, Stanley Johnson, was an influential Conservative Party politician and later, a member of the European Parliament, European Commission and World Bank. Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, was of course the famous Prime Minister of Canada, whose two administrations bridged the 1960, 1970s and 1980s.

Jacinda Ardern is the daughter of Ross Ardern, a NZ High Commissioner to Cook Islands and more recently, Administrator of Tokelau. His brother, Ian, is Head of the Mormon Church in New Zealand and Pacific region.

Scott Morrison’s Great Aunt was Mary Gilmore, who once founded a utopian socialist colony in Paraguay with the socialist William Lane.

Morrison’s older brother, Alan, serves as Chair of AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) Committee on Paramedicine and Chair of the government’s Health Services Working Group.

Then there is Jane Halton, who Morrison appointed as head of the government’s National Covid-19 Co-ordination Commission. Jane is the daughter of Charles Halton, a British Military Scientist brought to Australia in 1973 by Gough Whitlam to overhaul the country’s transport system, and who served as Secretary of Defence and Secretary of the Department of Communications under Hawke and Keating.

Daughter Jane is now the CHAIR OF CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations), set up and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and World Economic Forum in 2015. Jane was part of Event 201, a pandemic exercise organised and funded by John Hopkins, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations and the World Economic Forum in October 2019.

Jane’s husband is Trevor Sutton, Deputy of the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Chair of the Governing Council of Statistics for the Asian and Pacific region. Trevor heads the Statistical Business Transformation Group which received a $256 million investment program to radically transform how ABS collects, processes and disseminates information, data and statistics.

In 2016, ABS data collection and survey systems were awarded to Accenture, a partner of ID2020 and GAVI. Trevor is a Member of the Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation of which Jane Halton is also a Board Member, and which receives funding from the Gates Foundation and WHO.

Trevor Sutton’s brother is Dr Brett Sutton. Dr Sutton is the Chief Health Officer of Victoria, who advises Dan Andrews Government on public health and pandemic response measures. Interestingly, Jane Halton also has a brother, Philip Halton, who is Deputy Commissioner of QBCC, Queensland’s building and construction regulator.

These are just a few examples but there are many more – some are well-known, while others are tightly guarded secrets.


Moorooka State School parents in fight to keep principal Jordan Burke

One hopes the bureaucratic shitheads take notice of this. A popular principal is a treasure

A Brisbane school community has launched an eleventh-hour campaign to keep their “beloved” principal, the school’s third in two years, after they received notice he would not be receiving a new contract for 2022.

According to a petition launched by a concerned Moorooka State School parent, the community was recently “blindsided by the bureaucratically motivated removal of its beloved principal,” Jordan Burke.

“The school’s third principal in two years, Mr Burke dedicated himself to our school over the last 12 months in a way that was appreciably over and above what was required in his job description,” the petition said.

“In return, he has been justifiably popular with students and parents alike.

“The Department of Education has undertaken to remove Mr Burke on the basis that our school has grown and he is no longer the best person for the job.

“We say otherwise.

“Our kids are upset and confused about the removal of their principal, and we as parents are angry that the department has not given any weight at all to the benefits of consistency in our kids’ educational environment, and concerned that our voice has not been accurately represented in the recruitment process for our principal.”

An Education Queensland representative confirmed that the decision to move on from Mr Burke was driven by the school’s recent growth from 349 students in 2018 to 435 this year.

“Moorooka State School has grown rapidly over the past few years and has recently been reclassified by the department into a higher classification level,” the representative said.

“In Term 4 of this year the department ran a merit recruitment and selection process as required by policy.

“A principal from another school was identified as the most suitable applicant from that process and will commence the role in Term 1 next year.

“These are operational matters and the Minister for Education has no role in the selection or appointment of principals.”

A current Moorooka State School parent told the Southern Star Mr Burke brought “stability” to the school after four principals in five years, three of them in the past two years.

“Our understanding was that principal Burke was to be our principal long-term,” she said. “Principal Burke’s sense of community and excitement for the school’s future was always evident, and we were looking forward to 2022 (and beyond) with him leading the school, and finally getting the chance to implement new ideas.

“The frequent turnover of principals, and more recently vice-principals, means this diverse school community has had to cope with multiple changes (on top of Covid-19), and the associated uncertainty and loss of momentum as each new principal takes time to get to know the school staff, teachers, students and school community before implementing any plans.”

A petition to keep Mr Burke on as principal has garnered 439 signatures at the time of publication.


Researchers to put successful schools under the microscope

They will discover that the best schools are the most orderly

A team of university researchers will study the state’s best schools to work out the secrets of their success, so others can learn from them.

The NSW Department of Education and three universities - NSW, Canberra and Charles Sturt - have established The Ambassador Schools Research Centre, in a project believed to be among the first of its kind in the world.

The department has revealed six ambassador schools, and more will follow. They include Fairvale and Macarthur Girls’ High Schools, and Auburn North, Millthorpe, Bonnyrigg Heights and Huntington Public Schools.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said each had an x-factor that made them an outstanding school, and distilling that would help others.

“This research will provide us with an understanding of how we spread this success across the state, helping teachers improve their classroom practices and lifting student outcomes,” she said.

UNSW Professor Kim Beswick said the universities involved had a wide range of experience, from Indigenous and regional education to professional development of teachers and early childhood learning.

“We’ve got pretty much all the important bases covered, and lots of experience of working with schools and trying to find out what works,” she said.

“We’ve suggested really rigorous approaches, but a key feature of this research is that it’s going to be co-designed with the department … but also with the principals of the ambassador schools.

“They’ll get a say in the sorts of data they would like to see collected. They’ll be able to inform us of their context and what they think is working.”

By 2023, the researchers expect to have an idea of the most effective approaches in those schools, and hope to help other schools implement them in 2024.




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